Perched edge of bench, batboy-for-a-day
squints at the bright green scene spread out
before him. Sometimes he turns shyly,
sneaking sidelong glances at the man boys sauntering by.
Flannel clad and crew cut, they tell tall winter tales,
fists pounding mitts to celebrate their punch lines.
At bat, a skinny shortstop – full of first-year dreams –
works a walk and the batboy leaps
into the lazy afternoon, retrieving the still new
Hillerich for its place in the rack.
On the bench, the journeyman catcher grips a ball
in his gnarled right hand then leans forward,
brown streams of Red Man pooling between his feet.
It’s only March, but he knows the season offers no hope.
And walking head down toward the clubhouse in left,
the ancient reliever confronts reality: He’s being let go.
For the rest of the summer, the kid relives these scenes,
shuffling baseball card images and preserving memories
that last long after cards have gone the way
of comic books and coonskin caps.
Stilllifes of simpler times that linger on.
Like the late day sun. Or the faint scent of gum.